For many lucky Pontiac hobbyists, owning your dream car is a-once-in-a-lifetime experience, but for Cap Proffitt of Ellinwood, Kansas, it has occurred twice. A cattle-feed lot manager by trade, his first voyage began in 1964 while working on the family farm. “It was a plan that turned into a passion in 1965,” the 64-year-old recalls. “I planned to save money so I could buy a new car sometime during the ’65 model year. While my dad supported the plan, he also urged me to buy a Pontiac. At that point, the passionate pursuit of owning a ’65 GTO began.”
That spring, Cap and his father met with the sales staff at Omara Pontiac in Hutchison, Kansas, where the plan took on the shape of a Fontaine Blue GTO hardtop with black interior.
A combination of Dupont and PPG products were used to refinish the exterior. The Raven Bla
“It wasn’t highly optioned,” says Cap. “Just a four-speed manual transmission, Safe-T-Track rearend, Rally gauges and tach, AM radio with Verba-Phonic rear speaker, Rally I wheels, and redline Tiger Paw tires.”
Like every red-blooded performance enthusiast, Cap dreamed of owning a Tri-Power–equipped GTO, and his initial plan included just that, but it didn’t stay that way for long. “I caved to the myth that the Tri-Power needed to be continually tuned and that only large specialty dealerships in Kansas City could do it. I changed my mind and ordered the four-barrel instead.”
The GTO arrived one rainy day during the summer of 1965. “I couldn’t believe how well it ran,” he recalls. “When the four-barrel opened, to me it felt like an automatic hitting the passing gear. It performed like nothing I’d ever experienced before.”
Cap and his GTO were inseparable for the next several months, but when he decided to serve our country by joining the Army during the Vietnam War, he sold his dream car, but vowed to never forget it, reasoning he’d own it or another someday. Sadly, upon completing his tour and returning stateside, he learned that within six months of parting ways, the GTO’s new owner totaled it, dashing any hopes of reuniting the two.
As the years progressed, Cap married Robin, and the two had a family and all the life-changing priorities that come with it. During that time, Robin had heard Cap’s GTO stories dozens of times and was well aware of his hopes of someday owning another. With the children grown and more disposable income available, Robin made a suggestion to Cap: “We can afford it. I think you should find another and buy it.” That was all Cap had to hear. In 2005, the search began for the perfect GTO.
Responding to an Internet ad that March, the Proffitts traveled to Rosewood, Oregon, to take a closer look at a ’65 GTO that piqued their interest. Like Cap’s original, it too was Fontaine Blue and originally equipped with a 389 four-barrel and an M20 four-speed. It had been repainted black at some point, and its original 389 had been replaced with a good-running 421ci equipped with Tri-Power and an aggressive hydraulic cam. Cap and Robin found it to be very complete and in nice driver condition. A deal was struck and the fun began.
“I couldn’t believe we found the perfect car on the Internet and it was just as represented,” he adds. “We decided to drive it back home to Kansas from Oregon. That took us down coastal Highway 1 in California to Bakersfield, where we caught Route 66 on to Texas. I’ll never forget the feeling of driving a classic GTO on Route 66. I also remember each fuel stop taking at least 30 minutes because of the crowd the GTO drew.”
Cap and Robin enjoyed the car for the next couple of years. In that time, a few imperfections in the existing paint job and subsurface arose, and Cap decided a full restoration was in order. While Cap would never forget his Fontaine Blue original, he and Robin wanted this build to represent the exact GTO they would order if able to do so today. That meant including a handful of tasteful modifications and an injection of modern technology.
In July 2007, Cap delivered the GTO to Ron’s Restoration in Glade, Kansas. Over the course of the next 12 months, it was transformed into the Proffitt’s dream machine. Cap stopped in every few weeks to keep tabs on its progress, and found owner Ron Kester had completely media-blasted the GTO’s body to rid it of any paint and expose any areas that required attention. He then replaced portions of the floorpan and trunk floor using new reproductions, and treated the body shell to reproduction quarter panels. Lower patch panels replaced offending areas on the original fenders, too.
Once the bodywork was complete, Ron thoroughly coated the GTO’s body panels with Dupont’s VariPrime and epoxy primers. The durable foundation was sanded with 600-grit paper, before four coats of PPG acrylic urethane in late-model General Motors Raven Black were applied. The black basecoat was then wet-sanded using papers with grit varying from 1,000 to 3,000 before it was topped with five coats of PPG 2002 clear. Another wet-sanding session followed, before final polishing using 3M Perfect-It products. The result is an exterior finish that not only looks mile deep, but is ripple free too.
While the body was being prepped, the GTO’s chassis was completely stripped and the frame was powdercoated black. New front and rear coil springs were sourced from Ames Performance Engineering and a quarter of a coil was cut from each front spring to lower the ride height slightly. The GTO’s original power-steering box was modified by Power Steering Services in Springfield, Missouri, to quicken the internal ratio. It’s connected to the original steering-system components and knuckles, which were also all powdercoated black during the process.
Aftermarket sway bars in 1.25-inch-diameter up front and 1-inch at rear are teamed with QA1 adjustable shock absorbers and urethane bushings to handle roll control. Boxed lower control arms locate the GTO’s original 10-bolt rear, which houses a limited-slip differential and a 3.55:1-ratio gear set. Firestone airbags are located within the rear coil springs to keep the axle planted, while power is transferred to the pavement with 17-inch Cragar S/S wheels complemented by Nitto 450-series tires in 225/50-17 up front and 275/50-17 at the rear. Master Power Brakes supplied the manual brake system, which includes a combination of slotted and cross-drilled rotors and 11-inch drums.
Though the stereo is well hidden from view in the cabin, there’s no mistaking the repurpos
The GTO’s original blue interior had been changed to black at some point in the past, and the Proffitts elected to keep it that way. Ron enlisted Steve Stegman of Great Bend, Kansas, to completely restore the interior. Legendary Interior components supplied by Ames Performance Engineering were used throughout. Just Dashes in Van Nuys, California, restored the original dashpad, while The Finishing Touch in Chicago restored the center console. Performance Restorations in Keller, Texas, refurbished the GTO’s original woodgrain dash bezel, and Good Vibrations in Hutchison, Kansas, installed a complete stereo system that includes a well-hidden Sony head unit, 10-disc CD changer, JL Audio amp, and modern speakers.
Tom Wilhite of Wilhite Automotive in Derby, Kansas, took the GTO’s existing 421ci block and bored it 0.030-inch to 4.125 inches. He added an Eagle crankshaft with a stroke length of 4.25 inches, which takes total displacement to 454 ci. The cylinders are filled with Ross forged-aluminum pistons and Total Seal rings, which ride on 6.8-inch-length, forged-steel Eagle H-beam connecting rods. A Melling M54F oil pump pressurizes the oiling system to approximately 80 psi, while a stock oil pan with integral baffle and full-length windage tray keeps the crude from collecting on the crankshaft.
A set of ’69 No. 62 cylinder heads was ported, and the exhaust crossovers filled to reduce carburetor heat and maximum exhaust-port consistency. They were assembled using 2.11/1.77-inch Ferrea valves and Comp Cams beehive valvesprings, providing 123-pounds of seat pressure. The compression ratio checks in at a barely-pump-gas-friendly 9.8:1. A custom-ground hydraulic-roller camshaft from Comp Cams, featuring 242/248- degrees of 0.050-inch duration and a LSA at 112, actuates the valves. The company’s roller-tip rocker arms lift the intake and exhaust valves a total of 0.540- and 0.563-inch off their respective seats.
A Barry Grant Six Shooter induction system, which consists of a specific aluminum intake manifold and a trio of Barry Grant two-barrel carburetors, feeds the mill, while a billet MSD Ready-To-Run distributor, Pertronix coil, and Taylor Pro-Series 8mm wires transfer spark to the AC Delco R45S plugs. A set of oversized H.O. manifolds from Ram Air Restoration Enterprises send spent gasses through a complete Flowmaster exhaust system.
The personalized “R GTO” license plates lend a clue that this particular GTO is shared equ
Cap and Robin took possession of their GTO just before the 2008 POCI National Convention, which was held July of that year in Spearfish, South Dakota. Of the result, he says, “It turned out great. It’s exactly the way we would’ve ordered it new if we could have. It’s just a monster when you put your foot into it. It also handles great with the upgraded sway bars, shocks, and brakes. I had a fantastic time when I entered it in an auto-cross event at a past GTOAA convention.”
“This GTO is so special to me because it not only reminds me of my very first car, but also because now Robin shares my same passion for it and the Pontiac hobby. She’s my best friend and we really are a team in life.
Like every red-blooded performance enthusiast, Cap dreamed of owning a Tri-Power– equipped GTO, and his initial plan included just that, but it didn’t stay that way for long
“When we first bought it, we wanted to hook up with other GTO owners, so we attended our first GTOAA Convention in 2005. Many new friendships began that year because of our GTO, and though we didn’t expect any awards, we were astonished to find it took Second in the Popular Vote class!”
Since the restoration, the GTO has gone on to take home numerous other First Place or Best In Class awards at various shows, but also cherished Gold awards in the Concourse Modified class at the past five GTOAA Conventions, scoring 97 percent or better, and a Best of Show trophy at the Indian Uprising event in Chicago in 2010.
When asked what future modifications or improvements the Proffitts have planned for their GTO, Cap replies, “Nothing really. We’re just going to continue enjoying it. It always turns heads and gets thumbs-up, and that’s a great feeling.”
With the trunkful of esteemed awards and the public’s overwhelming approval displayed anytime it’s on the road, most would agree that there’s little chance of further improving this GTO!